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PhD position in Germany

  1. May 7, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone :)

    I am going to finish my master thesis in physics ( Nano-science ) in Germany at rostock university within the next two months, and i would like to apply for PhD in other city.

    I am not a German.

    I would like to ask, whether it is very difficult to get a PhD position in Physics in Germany ?

    Some friends told me that it is very difficult for the foreigner to shift to new university to do the PhD.

    I have not sent any application or any E-mail yet, because i need someone to give me some useful information.

    anyone has an idea about this issue ?

    with my best regards

    Roula,
     
  2. jcsd
  3. May 7, 2014 #2
    I would suggest looking at the acceptance rates of those universities (maybe they even have a separate one for international applicants) and their guidelines for international applicants (for example, do they have a similar criteria as that of German applicants).
     
  4. May 8, 2014 #3

    Monique

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    Best thing is to ask the people you have worked with during your masters degree, did you do an internship? If so, ask your supervisor.

    At any rate, you will only find out by trying: send out applications with letters of recommendation and write a good cover letter that describes in a few sentences why you would like to do a PhD in the particular lab.

    It's likely you will get several rejections, because there aren't many positions. Maybe the person you're applying to has a recommendation for another lab, or you can try and write a grant application with them (research beforehand if there are opportunities for PhD fellowships).
     
  5. May 8, 2014 #4

    cgk

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    OP, you should take with caution any information you find in the web on applying for PhD positions, as they are often geared towards the US system, and the German system does not work anywhere like that. For example, you generally do not need letters of recommendation (I've never heard of this), you do not write a formal cover letter (you write a regular email), and you should not expect the institutes to which you apply to know anything about the official universitiy's policy on how PhD applications are supposed to be handled. Similarly, you do not get "accepted" into a program[1] (in fact, most universities have no "programs"), instead you get hired and paid as a staff scientist ("Wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter").

    The standard way of getting a PhD position is indeed to look for professors or junior group leaders you would like to work with, and either (a) write them an email saying that you are interested in working with them or (b) talk to them at conferences. In those emails you should write a bit about your prior work and why you are interested in working with them specifically. You might need to write a few of those, as the persons might currently not have positions available, but often they have (particularly if they are big in their field). Changing cities is often seen favorably, and I do not see why this should be any more difficult for a German citizen than a non-German one (in fact, I doubt people would consider this as a factor at all).

    [1] An exception to this is if you apply for one of the new graduate colleges, which indeed have programs you can get accepted to. Whether this is a good idea is anyone's guess. For example, you'd then need to do lectures, homeworks, etc., which are otherwise usually not required since you already have a MSc.
     
  6. May 8, 2014 #5

    cgk

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    And, as a side note: Unless after a longer search you cannot find a regular paid position as staff scientist, do not take a PhD fellowship. Unlike the standard regular employments, fellowships do not count for your social security savings (health insurance, retirement credits, etc), and you not only get paid less now, but also have less security than you would otherwise have.
    If you have multiple offers, it also helps to ask what, besides research, would be expected of you. Often you would have to do some teaching or lab assistance, but to which degree that happens differs widely in different labs (anything from none to half of your total time is common).
     
  7. May 8, 2014 #6

    Monique

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    Whether it is required or not, having such a letter is a great asset. I regularly write them for students, including those who apply for an internship-, PhD- or industry position in Germany.

    Sure, write the text in the e-mail addressed to the person you want to work with. I mentioned a cover letter, because of the structured advice that's given on writing one, one shouldn't just write a quick e-mail: put some thought into it.
     
  8. May 14, 2014 #7
    Thanks for all for your answer :)
     
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